Appeal to MEPs to save lions from Padalko zoo Ukraine.

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Appeal to Members of the European Parliament from Ukrainian animal welfare activists asking for rescue of animals from Padalko illegal private zoo in Pokrovsk #LionDonetsk 

Dear Ms. PIETIKÄINEN,

Dear ECK,

Dear  MEPs - members of the Animal Welfare Intergroup,

 We, the animal welfare activists of Ukraine, concerned about the fate of dying wild animals in Padalko’s private zoo, address you, the MEPs, with an open letter asking to stand for the abused animals in Padalko Zoo, saving them from torture conditions and providing them with urgent veterinary care.

We ask you to include the problem of the African lions and bears of the Padalko Zoo dying from hunger, cold and diseases, in the agenda of the meeting in Strasbourg on January 17. The announced agenda on the implementation of the EU directive for keeping animals in European zoos is the best possible context for addressing the horrendous animal abuse in the Padalko Zoo, which we hope will attract the attention of deputies and experts who come to the meeting from various EU countries, as well as with representatives of the European Commission, which allocates funds to our country for reforms with a view to integration into the European Union.

We also ask you to take the necessary actions to freeze the second tranche of macro-financial assistance to the Government of Ukraine (500 million euros) until the problem of compliance of the actions (or immobility) of government agencies with the EU norms is resolved, in particular, the Ministry of Ecology and the Ministry of Education.

Paid excursions of schoolchildren to familiarize them with the suffering of wild animals tormented in cramped cages, freezing to  their own excrements, has nothing to do with integration into the European Union’s education system, moreover it is in open conflict with European values.

Torture as such and torture of animals in particular are incompatible with the conditions for obtaining financial assistance from the EU for the reforms of our country aligning with the values and standards of the EU, in particular Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty, which affirms animal welfare as a “European value”.

We are convinced that the funds received from European taxpayers should be directed to the development of our society, and therefore should be strictly controlled by donors and creditors for the fulfillment of the promises of Ukrainian government to lead our country towards European integration.

Unfortunately, local officials patronize Padalko Zoo, and in the reception office of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, we were denied filing a complaint, because of the “negative information” about citizen Igor Padalko in the text of our letter. Due to the fact that in our country, our concerns are not heard, we are addressing you.

Based on the above, we ask you to intervene without delay to bring the situation with the illegal private Padalko zoo in accordance with the processes of integration into the European Union, and the norms that majority of citizens of our country are willing to respect.

Alas, in the situation of a complete inaction of our officials, we are convinced that only European politicians can save our children from the forced traumatic experience of contemplating animal torture, and animals themselves from inevitable painful death from hunger and cold in cramped cages.

We very much hope for your response and active actions in saving the martyrs of the private concentration camps for the animals of Igor Padalko.

 

Signature: Location, Date:

 Here is the information about the zoo: In the city of POKROVSK, the Donetsk region of Ukraine, a citizen Igor Nikolaevich PADALKO holds the illegal zoo under name of a “Park of the Pokrovsky Period’ (at the address: Donetsk region, village of the 1st of May, Naberezhnaya 1-A street) 12 bears 6 lions, and about a hundred other animals, including primates and wolves. Padalko categorically refuses the admission of veterinarians and activists to the territory of his  zoo, threatening to kill all animals and himself.

Despite the declarations of our government about the intention to integrate the country into the European Union, for five years the zoo has been has been existing without inspections and veterinary monitoring, with apparent violations of the content of wild animals in complete unsanitary conditions. The situation is a threat to public health and safety, since the animals do not have proper care or veterinary control; they are kept for weeks in their excrements, in homemade cages, without respect for the elementary safety standards. Volunteers and activists,, representatives of charities repeatedly requested Mr.Padalko surrender the sick animals in favor of rehabilitation centers and charitable foundations. In response, Padalko said that he makes money on animals, showing them to visitors for a fee, and  that this is a business, so he will not give animals voluntarily.

 

Excursions of schoolchildren to Padalko dangerous zoo

In connection with this illegal “business”, animal welfare defenders have a question to the Ministry of Education of Ukraine, which allows schools and children from holiday camps to organize excursions and pay for visiting an unsanitary and dangerous place. In the “educational” purposes, children of the Donetsk region are brought on buses for excursions to look at the animals tormented in cramped cages, in their own feces! Teachers who visited the zoo  complained that the children were traumatized by watching  the suffering of animals, some school children began to cry, asking why animals tormented in such cramped cages. The teachers were also worried about the safety of improvised cages and the lack of fencing, which is  exposing the visitors to risks of physical contacts of animals. However, such blatant abuses could not have lasted a day if not for the patronage of local officials of city of Pokrovsk and Donetsk region.

 

Local zoo patron among officials

The local government represented by the Mayor of Pokrovsk Ruslan Trebushkin together with the governor of the Donetsk region Oleksander Kutz not only covers the torture of animals and condones the visits that are dangerous for school children, but they also require the state funding of the illegal live entertainment business of Igor Padalko. Such requirements raise questions about the competence of local officials: Pokrovsk is located in the frontline zone, and residents of the city and region have many basic  needs, in particular, for real education and health care, which are in dire need of public funds. For comparison, a nurse in Pokrovsk receives a salary of less than 100 euros per month for a working week of 40 hours. And Padalko,  thanks to his ‘patrons’ received an amount of 1600 euros for ‘gardening’, which, by the way, did not happen.

In a difficult economic situation in Pokrovsk, the requirements of local managers for the renovation of a spontaneous illegal private zoo seem to be a flagrant violation of all ethical standards and government policies aimed at improving the welfare of the citizens.

Mayor Trebushkin visited the zoo with his daughter and he “liked everything”. Moreover, on November 28, 2018, during the next 61st session of the Pokrovsk City Council, the deputies recommended that the British Council approve Padalko, despite its solid age, the winner in the “Best Youth Initiative” competition and handed him 50 thousand UAH. (1600 euros) for landscaping. They decided that the only problem of this zoo, the lack of flora!

Olexander Kutz, the governor of the Donetsk region, takes part in this patronage of the zoo. The local suspiciously tolerant to the zoo environmental inspectorate reports directly to him. According to local animal rights activists, the governor on Facebook publishes false information about welfare of the animals in the zoo, sends his subordinates to the Ministry of Ecology, with the requirements of state funding for the private, and illegal Padalko zoo, where animals have no veterinary passports. Awaiting  the court’s decision, the local authorities and the Ministry of the Ecology did not even consider it necessary to install heating lamps and provide the animals with adequate food and veterinary care. After the active interference of the governor Kutz’s subordinates, the confiscation of animals before the court verdict pronounced was denied, and the investigator, who conducted the criminal case concerning Padalko’s abuses, was replaced.

 

Zoo animals are dying of hunger, cold and beatings

Animal welfare defenders are concerned that all animals have wounds and bruises, a bear has an ulcer on its head, and he lost his eye in an inexplicable incident. One of the bears has a broken jaw as a result of beatings, it is very exhausted due to the fact that it cannot eat and is fragilized from hunger. One of the lions went blind, another one dies unable to stand on his paws, frozen to the concrete floor in his own urine and feces.

 Animal defenders repeatedly asked Padalko to allow vets to treat the animals, but to no avail. One of the bears has been without movement for 1 year and 7 months. He sits in a cage to the size of the bear itself, it has atrophied muscles. Animals have no water, licking snowflakes, and their diet consists of wheat porridge and seeds. During a recent inspection, it was found that the animals do not have adequate nourishment, and there is no food stock in the territory. The local activists explain, that Padalko recycles food waste from local industries a couple of times a week. Animals are fed once or twice a week to keep them alive.

 At the moment, African lions are freezing temperatures of  -15C ° in the street in open enclosures with a concrete floor of cages. In the most serious condition is a blind lion, he sits in a cage for transportation. His skin freezes to the gland, he is covered in ulcers and is on the verge of life and death, every day his condition is getting worse. He needs urgent veterinary care. One of the  weakened lions is covered with ulcers, he is unable to stand up, freezing to the concrete floor in his urine own feces ..

 

Complaints of animal welfare activists

The first statement to the police was written by volunteers on November 14, 2018 with a request to urgently inspect and confiscate animals suffering from abuse before winter freezing temperatures hit Pokrovsk.

After visit by the inspectors of the Ministry of Ecology, many violations and suspicions of cruel treatment of animals were reported. On December 6, 2018, the responsible person Padalko I.N. should have been brought to administrative responsibility under Part 2 of Art. 89  to a fine with confiscation of animals, which has not happened to this day.

Moreover, the State Ecological Inspectorate in the Donetsk region sent materials to the National Police of the Donetsk region due to the fact that the actions of Padalko company have signs of of illicit activities, the responsibility for which is reflected  in Art. 299 of the Criminal Code. (In the actions of Padalko they recognised the abuse, but at the same time the animals were left to die in the zoo.The owner of the zoo Padalko  threatened to shoot the animals and himself several times. A statement to the police was written about the threats of Padalko to kill the animals, but no police response followed.)

For two months, volunteers have been trying in vain to obtain confiscation of exhausted and sick animals. An appeal to the President Poroshenko was written, over 600 complains from Ukrainian citizens were written to the Ministry of Ecology. In four days, 5,000 people in social networks signed a petition asking for the release of animals to charities, and rehabilitation centers. They also conducted a campaign next to the Ministry of Ecology.

At the moment, the Ministry of Ecology does not fulfill its function and it turned out to be completely untenable in the matter of fulfilling the primary tasks - saving wild animals from cruel treatment.

 

Outdated wildlife legislation

One of the reasons for the impunity of cruel treatment of animals in the Padalko zoo is the lack of specific modern legislation protecting the wild animals in captivity. For five years, the animal welfare groups have requesting the adoption of the law on the identification of wild animals No7267, but it was never approved. Currently, there is no record of wild animals in Ukraine that are kept in captivity in private zoos and in private ownership. There are no clearly defined standards for keeping wild animals in captivity, and because of this legislative deficit, incidents that are terrifying in their cruelty occur even in public zoos. In the Kiev Zoo, where a female bear called Dinara committed suicide by wiping out the bones of her head on the concrete barriers of the cage. Alas, no one was held accountable for the incident in the absence of legal norms for keeping wild animals in captivity. However, the animal welfare groups in Ukraine do not consider the absence of the specific  modern legislation for wildlife a reason to ingore  to the sufferings of animals in the Padalko Zoo. The head of state and the government of Ukraine voluntarily committed themselves to reform the country and integrate into the European Union. This decision, reflecting the hopes and wishes of Ukrainian citizens, should be taken into account when providing immediate assistance to the animals at the Padalko Zoo.

Ukraine has chosen the European path and therefore we are entitled to demand from our officials that they comply with their obligations to integrate into the European Union, in particular, with the Lisbon Treaty, Article 13 on animal welfare as a European value.

 

International resonance

 MEP Stefan Eck, the legendary Brigitte Bardot, called President Poroshenko to save the animals from Padalko Zoo, but, alas, their appeal was unanswered. International charities joined the Ukrainian activist in their efforts to save animals from horrendous abuse in Padalko zoo : Lionel de Lange, ready to transport lions to sanctuaries to South Africa, Four Paws, and Born Free, specialized in helping wild animals in captivity are ready to assist in saving animals from the zoo. However, despite all these efforts, Ukrainian officials continue to ignore the abhorrent  situation of animal suffering in the Padalko zoo.

 



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